D'Iberville is counting on the generosity of its business community to make a Central Avenue revitalization project happen sooner rather than later. On Monday night, the city held a meeting outlining $12 million in proposed improvements. D'Iberville is asking some people to make sacrifices for the project.
"This is the heart of D'Iberville," said City Manager Richard Rose.
For D'Iberville leaders, it's heartbreaking to see what Katrina did to the city's business district. That's why plans are underway for a makeover.
"We're going to put all the utilities underground from the clock down to Argo Road," said Rose. "Widen Central Avenue from two lanes to three lanes with a center turn lane, and have six foot sidewalks on either side of that. Beyond that, we'll have a two foot area for street lighting, landscaping and such."
Rose says, ideally, the work will be done in 18 months to two years. However, much depends on convincing 75 property owners to give up some of their land for free.
"What we're asking them to do is contribute roughly five feet of their frontage to the city of D'Iberville so we can make this a reality, so we can improve the central business district," Rose said. "We have monies for facade grants, so we're going to be able to provide money to the property owners, I should say fix up their store front."
Several business owners who didn't want to appear on camera said they will definitely not be making a land donation. They say their properties are too valuable to just give away and the loss of parking spaces would hurt their business. They say if D'Iberville wants their land, it will have to pay for it, which is exactly what the city wants to avoid.
"We don't want to buy the land," said Rose. "If we have to buy the land, that's less money that the city will have to put into the aesthetics of downtown."
Rose says $10 million of the $12 million the city will use to improve Central Avenue come from a Mississippi Development Authority grant. He says they'll start meeting with individual property owners in two weeks.